Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


July 21, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Betancourt: Free Gilad Shalit (Reuters/Ynet News)
    Ingrid Betancourt urged Colombian rebels to free all hostages as she addressed a rally in Paris on Sunday that was part of a series of demonstrations around the world to protest against kidnappings.
    Betancourt held a large sign with kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's photo. The sign read, "Gilad Shalit, kidnapped since June 2006."
    "We want freedom for everyone," said Betancourt.

UN Peacekeepers Salute Hizbullah Terrorists - Joseph Abrams (FOX News)
    Israel is calling for removal of two UN soldiers from Lebanon after photographs surfaced of the soldiers saluting the coffins of Hizbullah terrorists during a prisoner exchange last week.
    Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, said he was "shocked and horrified" by the photograph and that it was time for the saluting soldiers to go.
    "I think they should be recalled and be sent back to whichever country they came from....They are there as peacekeepers with a very clear mandate to disarm Hizbullah - they're not there to honor terrorists," he said.

Middle East Deal Doable, Says British PM (AFP)
    After talks in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted Sunday that the gap between Israel and the Palestinians can be bridged and that a Middle East peace deal is achievable.
    Brown said he was confident that all outstanding issues preventing an agreement could be hammered out.

Palestinian Extremist in Lebanon Killed in Clash with Fatah - Zeina Karam (AP/Washington Post)
    Palestinian security officials say Shehadeh Jawhar, military commander of the Jund al-Sham group, which follows the extremist ideology of al-Qaeda, died Sunday after a clash Saturday with members of Fatah inside Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in south Lebanon. Two other Palestinian militants were killed.
    Jawhar was a prominent extremist who fought American troops in Iraq. He was wanted by Lebanese authorities for numerous acts of violence.

Poles Who Rescued Jews Honored in Warsaw - Vanessa Gera (AP)
    Wanda Bulik was only 18 when a conductor approached her on a train during the height of World War II and asked her to take care of an abandoned 3-year-old Jewish boy.
    Without hesitation, the young Catholic Pole gave up her studies, convinced a young police officer who was in love with her to pose with her as the boy's parents, and devoted the next four years to sheltering him from the Nazi Holocaust.
    On Sunday, Bulik and more than 60 other Christian Poles who saved Jews were honored in Warsaw by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, a New York-based group devoted to helping such former rescuers in their old age.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Gives Iran Two Weeks to Think Again on Enrichment - Caroline Lees
    Iranian and American officials were deadlocked Saturday after their highly publicized meeting failed to produce a breakthrough. After six unproductive hours the Iranians were given two weeks to respond. "Iran has a choice to make: negotiation or further isolation," said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. The negotiations, in Geneva, allowed the U.S. to press its demand for the immediate suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment program. However, Iran refused to agree to any such proposal.
        Diplomats described the talks as a final attempt to persuade Iran that it must freeze its nuclear program. "They can take this message away with them to Iran," said a British official. "If they don't agree to our proposals, we will have to start imposing sanctions." (Times-UK)
        See also Heat Rises Under Iran - Jay Solomon
    The U.S. is fine-tuning new financial penalties against Iran that would target everything from gasoline imports to the insurance sector, and the prospect of such sanctions grew after talks over its nuclear-fuel program this weekend made no progress. The sanctions could include measures to impede Iran's shipping operations in the Persian Gulf and its banking activities in Asia and the Middle East, officials said. "We have not gotten all the answers to the questions," said EU foreign-policy coordinator Javier Solana after Saturday's meeting. He said the two-week timeframe was meant to give Iran the space to come up with "the answers that will allow us to continue." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Ordered to Pay $12 Million for 1991 Assassination in France - Josh Gerstein
    A federal judge in Washington is ordering Iran to pay $12 million for the emotional distress incurred by the wife of a prominent Iranian dissident assassinated in France in an operation investigators there blamed on the Iranian government. Judge Henry Kennedy ordered the award in a lawsuit brought by Shahintaj Bakhtiar, who was married to Chapour Bakhtiar when he was stabbed to death and mutilated at his Paris home in 1991. Bakhtiar was a longtime critic of the Shah's regime who briefly served as Iran's prime minister.
        American courts have awarded at least $8.6 billion in default judgments against Iran for terrorist acts carried out by groups it sponsors, such as Hamas, Hizbullah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The awards are rarely collected, because Iran has few assets in America. (New York Sun)
  • Saudi King's Religion Conference Ends on Sour Note - Joseph Goldstein
    An interfaith conference convened in Madrid by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia concluded on a sour note Friday as Christian and Jewish participants complained that the organizers, the Muslim World League, had too much control over the conference's closing communique. The final statement rankled several of the conference participants because it differed from an earlier agreed-upon draft. The vast majority of participants never had a chance to review any version of the statement before Abdul Rahman Al-Zaid of the Muslim World League read it aloud. "For us as participants from other religions this is not an acceptable procedure for adopting documents," said George Ryabykh, a Russian Orthodox priest participating in the conference. (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Military Intelligence Warns of Attacks on Northern, Southern Fronts - Roni Sofer
    Director of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet Sunday, "We have intelligence indicating terror activities are possible both on the northern and southern fronts. Hizbullah may choose to use one of their still disputed subjects, such as the Shaaba Farms or Imad Mugniyah's assassination." Regarding the Iranian threat, Yadlin said Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear developments, despite the international community implementing some diplomatic and financial duress. Syria, he said, is "escaping its international isolation, despite assisting Hizbullah. Damascus is taking several steps in order to get closer to the West, but is still very much a part of the axis of terror." Yadlin said that in Gaza, "quality arms are still being smuggled into the Strip." (Ynet News)
  • Al-Qaeda in Israel, Fertile Ground for Terrorism - Amos Harel
    With the uncovering of a second Arab-Israeli cell with ties to al-Qaeda in the space of a few weeks, we learn that among Arab Israelis, like the Palestinians in the territories, there is growing support for the messages of al-Qaeda. For some years now the public declarations of Bin Laden and his aides have increasingly focused on Israel and Jewish communities around the world as targets for terrorist attacks. It is also known that cells linked with al-Qaeda operate with relative ease in Gaza. The desire of al-Qaeda to operate in Israel is finding fertile ground. There are those who will willingly offer assistance - and therefore the likelihood of a strike by international jihad on Israeli soil (similar attacks have already taken place in Jordan and Sinai) is of reasonable likelihood. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel-Hizbullah Trade Reveals Much about Both Sides - Mitch Albom
    You can take whatever side you like in the Israeli-Palestinian debate. You can argue who is entitled to land and statehood and borders. But you cannot defend the frenzied lovefest that took place for Samir Kuntar in Lebanon, as if he were some long-lost statesmen, instead of a common murderer who did the worst thing you can do: take the life of a child. How do people celebrate such a killer? Is it because the little girl was Israeli - and Israel is the enemy? Since when does a 4-year-old know of politics or war? An Israeli soldier who deliberately smashed a child's head on a rock would be tried as a criminal, not cheered like a hero.
        The total disregard for life of anyone who does not believe what Hizbullah believes stands in stark contrast to the value of life - and even of its demise - that Israel demonstrated in bringing those two bodies back. (Detroit Free Press)
        See also Hero's Welcome Puts Hizbullah's Barbarity on Display - Editorial
    If blackmailing Israel into releasing a child-murderer is what Hizbullah and its supporters consider a triumph, they have no one to blame but themselves when the world ignores or rejects the cause they claim to represent. The episode is a useful reminder that it is wrong to put the cause of Israel on a par with the cause of its enemies. One side represents reverence for life. The other has no regard for life. (Miami Herald)
  • Abbas Didn't Have to Honor Terrorist - Steve Huntley
    Why did PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, described as a moderate and said to be committed to peace with Israel, join in the unseemly celebration of child murderer Samir Kuntar by announcing his congratulations to Kuntar's family? Abbas' gesture of goodwill to Kuntar only reinforces the paranoid culture of hate in Palestinian society and undercuts his responsibility to tone down official expressions of hate. Abbas must prepare his people in mind and spirit for peace with the Israelis if negotiations are to succeed in producing a lasting resolution to the conflict. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • A Reality Check on Iran - David Isenberg
    A new monograph by the RAND Corporation, a prominent U.S. think-tank, titled "Iran's Political, Demographic, and Economic Vulnerabilities," finds that despite the theocratic basis of its state, most Iranians perceive the regime as legitimate. It notes, "The regime appears to be under no imminent danger of collapse or coup." "Ethnic cleavages persist in Iran but do not provide an easy means of swaying Iran's leadership. Although Persians, the dominant group, account for only half the population, Iranian governments have been relatively successful in inculcating an Iranian identity into citizens from most other ethnic groups by emphasizing Shi'ism as a unifying force and fostering Iranian nationalism."
        Gary Sick, who was on the staff of the National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, said, "It is not an effective strategy to try and overthrow the regime. It would require massive resources and a long, long time. This is a 2,500-year-old entity. Most tribes identify themselves as Iranian first; they are looking for more respect, not to overthrow the government." The report noted that during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, living standards plummeted. Yet opposition to the war was muted because most Iranians rallied around the flag. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
  • Observations:

    Gillerman: When Muslims Kill Muslims, Nobody Cares - Deborah Solomon (New York Times)

    Outgoing Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman said in an interview:

    • Q: Is it likely that the Iranians would ever do anything reckless with nuclear weapons?
      Gillerman: "The real fear is not that the Iranians will be crazy enough or stupid enough to launch a missile at Israel, but that they will have no compunction about providing rogue regimes and terror organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah with weapons of mass destruction."
    • "The Palestinians' real tragedy is that they have not been able to produce a Nelson Mandela. Every single day, Muslims are killed by Muslims. You do not see a single Muslim leader get up and say, 'Enough is enough.'"
    • "It's nearly as if we live in a world where if Christians kill Muslims, it's a crusade. If Jews kill Muslims, it's a massacre. And when Muslims kill Muslims, it's the Weather Channel. Nobody cares."

          See also Interview with Amb. Dan Gillerman - Lally Weymouth (Newsweek)

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert